Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 15, 2012 7:30am-8:30am EST

7:30 am
>> guest: i think i will. she came up to me and she said, they did not like the book when it came out. they disagree with it. they say it's not too. however, now everyone is cool with me and to be kind of fun if it came to facebook and talked and she said and what is going out. i think i was in the netherlands for a couple years. but everything has worked out. the company is doing great and eventually they will be ipo and they will all be worth a trillion dollars. she's an amazing stuff over there. she's an up-and-coming incredible person that i have no ill will towards them and i don't think they have any ill will towards me. >> you watch this and other programs on line at >> and now on booktv, pauline maier was the recipient of the 2011 paolucci/bagehot book award. during the award award ceremony, professor baer spoke about her book, try again for about an hour.
7:31 am
-- her book, "ratification," for about an hour. to make my name is markedly. i'm the chief economic officer at isi and is my privilege to introduce our speaker and the recipient of the 2011 paolucci/bagehot book award, professor pauline maier. she is the professor of american history at mit where she has taught for more than 30 years. she received her ph.d from harvard university in 1968, and has also taught at the university of massachusetts and the university of wisconsin. in addition to being a greatly acclaimed scholar, she is also a devoted teacher of generations of undergraduates. regularly offering a survey course in american history taking and 65, for example. are books that focus on the power of ideas and the shaping of early america. have also recovered the human complexity of the founding
7:32 am
experience ring important nuance to conventional understandings. in her first book, "from resistance to revolution," in 1972, she sought to identify the causes of the transformation of generalized discontents and revolutionary commitments in the years leading up to the war for independence. in the old revolutionaries, clinical lives in the age of santa items and 1980, she surveyed several the men of the revolution, the generation of 1776, and distinguished their concerns and their fates from a later generation to shape the constitution and the new america republic, the generation of 1787. in american scripture, the making of the decoration of events in 1900 she examines the drafting and editing of the declaration and the documents transformation during the early 19th century from a revolutionary manifesto into a
7:33 am
statement of principles for established governments. that book also examined some 90 state and local decorations of independence written between april and july 1776 that had been generally forgotten. but she argued often made a better case for independence than did jeffersons independence it's a. american scripture was on "the new york times" book review choice list for the best books of the year, and was a finalist for the national book critics circle award. in 1998 she received mit's killian award given to a distinguished scholar of the university for achievement. today, we honor professor maier for "ratification" -- "ratification: the people debate the constitution, 1787-1788", a book which was nearly a decade in the making. hard as it may be to be believed, this is the first full-length narrative treatment of the ratification process across all the states ever
7:34 am
written. if you think about it, that has been an especially stunning omission in our historiography. for the writing of the constitution, unser, for the writing of a constitution by a small group of gifted statesman is not as novel and undertaking as we often think. the polish parliament wrote one in 1505 for example, which lasted nearly 300 years. what is novel, and to be extraordinary is that such a document be subject to democratic consent on a continent wide scale. so-called miracle of philadelphia is less miraculous than the miracle that ensued across several states in that year. what is more, because it is a ratifying and not the writing which made our constitution the law of the land, in a certain sense it is far more important to understand what the ratifiers thought they were consenting to than what the drafters were
7:35 am
intending in their writing. that crucial decision is almost universally overlooked by those seeking to discern the constitution's original consent. thanks to professor maier's work with our now in a much better position to understand our constitution, and so to understand ourselves. "ratification" is a tour de force bringing vividly to life numerous personalities otherwise lost to history. it casts new light on the oldest of american divides, this dispute between federalist and anti-federalist. the book is towering and it is a beautiful work of prose. already it has received numerous awards and tonight will counter it with a 2011 paolucci/bagehot book or. legs and gentlemen, pauline maier. [applause] >> thank you for that lovely introduction, which actually will be very beautifully and to exactly what i hope to talk
7:36 am
about what i intended the talk about the. but let me first say how decided and honored i am to be here tonight and to be the recipient of this distinguished award. although i think i've written books on some significance in my field over a career, which is getting to be what we say, long in the tooth? i have never won any book awards until the publication of "ratification," so i feel immensely gratified. and to receive a prize for a book that concerns liberty is especially moving. what could be more important? and, of course, hearing about the early recipients of this makes me understand this is not a prize in american history. it is in a much larger sphere. and i would say that the one criticism i received of this book from a professor at yale law school is that i underestimate the significance
7:37 am
of the ratification debates when i said that they were the most important debates or one of the most important debates in american history. he said it was the landmark world history. i will no longer do that. in any case, thank you very much. i'm grateful to all the members of the committee who gave me this great honor, the lead role in giving me and my book, this is a great honor. well, i thought that i would talk about is what mark henry said. how bizarre is it that this is the first book that gives a full narrative of the ratification of the constitution? and for those of you who are little, you know, well shall we say remote in your memory of american history, let me say precisely what this was. the events of the game when the federal convention adjourned on
7:38 am
september 17, 1787, and concluded roughly a year later, september 13, 1788, when the confederation congress declared the constitution officially ratified. in the period, essentially the constitution's fate was decided by specially elected democratically elected ratifying conventions in each of the states. and that is what he was safe and this is the first time in world history that such an important decision was, in fact, dedicated to the people. and, of course, our whole future rests upon a. the first history of this? the first full narrative history, compared to the federal today come with shelves of really quite excellent books that tell the story of the federal convention. some of them in with a chapter or an appendix that takes off what happened in ratification.
7:39 am
you know, delaware first, then pennsylvania. tying up loose strings is basically what this is doing. but to put this briefly at the end of the book on the convention suggested that the real story is the writing of the constitution, that the ratification was basically a no-brainer, if you will and, therefore, a nonstory. when i start to reflect why anyone would have thought that, it strikes me that it clearly comes out of that profound reverence for the constitution which set in very rapidly after it was ratified. already the january 1788, langston smith, one of the important critics of the constitution in new york said to his profound amazement that people were speaking as if the constitution, as if it were
7:40 am
written by god. how could this have happened? because it was so at odds with his experience and that of other americans in 1787 and 1788. in that period of the constitution was attacked rigorously. it was under fire. let me give you a couple extreme examples to make my point. there was the newspaper writer who in october 1787 said the constitution was the work of wealthy and ambitious spirit, conspirators. and nothing less than, and i quote, ladies and gentlemen, the most daring attempt to establish a despotic aristocracy, and the freemen of the world ever witnessed. and then on july 4, 1788, a group of anti-federalists in albany did what i suppose would be to us unthinkable. they celebrated the fourth of july by ceremonially burning a
7:41 am
copy of the constitution along with the news of virginia's ratification. not as william lloyd garrison would later do because it was packed with slavery and a further continuation of slavery, but because to these men it undermined everything for which they had fought in the american revolution. and so it was a very appropriate thing to do on the fourth of july, burned that which threatens the country should achievement at that time. in fact, of course this year was one of profound controversy. i mean, these are only modest examples of it. and of intense excitement. the debate over the constitution was the event of the year. in the newspapers were full of articles about the constitution. one observer in new england said that the people there were
7:42 am
reading the newspapers and all the literature on the constitution more than they read the bible. and that was saying something in the land of the puritans. when the conventions met in state after state they often faced precisely the same problem, where would he find a hall big enough to contain, not only the delegates, but the throngs of people who wanted to hear the debate. this was the event of the year. why all this interest? because people did not know if the constitution would be the country's salvation or its ruin. was it going to support the rights support the rights of the people, or would it destroy them? and as so long as those issues were unsettled, of course this was not a no-brainer. moreover, i would argue, i suppose i am back at home i promise to appeal that i would never underestimate the importance of the ratification
7:43 am
in world history again, but i will say i think it was a big 230 critical, oddly the most critical year in american history because it bridges our feeble national origins in the 1780s, and to strengthen international respectability that we subsequently achieved, in which i think we struggled to maintain in the modern world. okay, if it was so important, so exciting, why did nobody write this book a long time ago? there are a couple obvious answer to one is the documentary base is huge and it is widely scattered. you know, it's not just incidental archives in the original 13 states, but it's in small local fiber is. i think it would probably -- local libraries. i think would take more than a single professional life to master all of this documentary record, and then to write a book. as i like to say, i am unaware
7:44 am
that god is accepting applications from historians for second lives because they were unable to finish their book. historians have been aware of that so they have done what we're trying to do with subjects which seem to be supersized. that is, they have written on parts of the story. they have written on ratification in a single state, or on some part of the literature, or on a single group of contenders. or they have written on the whole of the story but asked only limited questions with constrain how much they actually had to know. and with regard to the state conventions which have been really, it's a very rare historian who has been ready to head into that direction, i think there's a hold of the reason. and that is the records there are peculiarly fraud -- flaw. in 1986, this is really
7:45 am
important here, 25 years ago, are my mathematics i? they are right, thank you very much, mark. james hudson was the curator of the libra of congress published an article in the texas law review, and he was contending with the originalist doctrine obviously in american committee. but what he said that he said that he pointed out that many states had no records of the debates in their ratifying convention. this makes it very difficult to talk about what was said if it wasn't recorded. the states that did have their debates recorded and published are open to tremendous suspicion. the published debates have several laws, he said. first of all this is really the beginning of the period were debates in legislatures and other similar bodies were recorded. stenography was a young craft,
7:46 am
and hudson claimed it took five years to master it, and a few of the short end and as they're called in america 18 century have put in five years. so we were praying to their skills. they could that have taken down verbatim accounts of these debates, and they didn't even try. of course, nor did james madison in the federal convention, thank god. i mean, we can read madison's notes, single volume of 600 pages, you know, if we had a verbatim it would take up a whole wall. however, when it comes to this date, ratifying conventions you will find that often they missed, not just a sense our paragraph, sometimes they miss toll speeches. we can document that quite well now for reasons like independence. some people look back on them, john marshall and later days say he would have recognized his
7:47 am
speeches had his name not been attached to it. we can speculate on why that was so. and he talked about this is the virginia convention where the poor man was forced to sit up in the gallery as people come in and out. marshall said this man, david robson, was very good with people who were well prepared and who spoke slowly and had an organized set of comments that are going to make. george mason. went very bad with people who spoke very softly, james madison. but by gosh robison for all of the problems that he faced produced 600 pages of the virginia ratifying debates, and that marvelous event would be lost to history without his efforts. so i must say my heart goes out to them but i'm grateful to them and hit okay, back to hudson. this is the problem with the
7:48 am
stenographer's. maybe disco wasn't up to this job. second, often they showed speeches before, you know, they within transcribed them and printed in either newspapers or sometimes directly into book form, or the newspaper accounts and debates would be collected and published in book form. but certainly in book form, the stenographer sometimes show them to the speaker who corrected him. and hudson said that corrupts the record. but the last reason, and i think the reason which is probably the most damning is they were politically biased. and that is with one side in these debates, the federalists who wanted a constitution ratified who often paid the shorthand and to do their work or own the newspapers for which they wrote, and who provided the subsidies that allow these debates to be published here quite? because they understood that they believed very much in the
7:49 am
eloquence and intelligence of the speakers. and they thought that they would be giving, are giving to people in other states that could be? using a behalf of the constitution. if they had less interest in publicizing the arguments of those who criticize the constitution. and the worst example is the published debates of the pennsylvania ratifying convention which happens to be the first to be but not to be the first to ratify. but it includes only the speeches of the two leading specials. one other critics of the constitution interrupted the speaker, and so managed to get his name into the published debates of the pennsylvania ratifying convention. massachusetts isn't quite so bad, and here i exaggerate a bit for effect. there is a point in these debates where the fellow taking down the notes, this is what he
7:50 am
published, it was a day like every other day. the anti-federalists stood up and made their usual trivial objections to the constitution, and the federalists answered them, i just can't go on taking office nonsense down. you start to wonder about the reliability of what they did right. and this explains i think hudson's conclusion. he said that the records of the state ratifiers were so bad that it would be impossible to take them to understand, how the ratifiers understood the constitution, that they couldn't serve that purpose but to use trying to show the possibility of original content and condemn this. now, that was bad news for originalist. alt-a, it was not good news for his stories. we do not like to link very hard on cracked games. so, what's happened?
7:51 am
there's been a revolution in 25 years, and the revolution is coming out of madison, wisconsin, a wonderful project of documentary editing all the documentary history of the ratification of the constitution. for instance, there are now 22 volumes in print and over 21 in print when i dash that when my book went to press. 14 focus on medicine in individual states. what did they do? they go into all the archives. they read in newspapers. they collect everything. they transcribed them. they collate them. they published them in subsidized volumes. here i am just an ordinary academic, and i could buy all the volumes. it was marvelous and then i could mark them up. with regard to the conventions i
7:52 am
think the transformation is the most dramatic. what they do day by day for these conventions is to collate the various documents, when it met, who and what officers they elected. what delegates appeared win. what rules they adopted. what committees were appointed. what motion for me. what the vote was. what they agree. never tell you what anyone said other than to make a motion. they collate those with the published debates where they exist, and there's other sources. newspaper accounts, the private journals kept by delegates or other people up in the galleries who came. i mean, the federal convention was secret. we know some delegates kept notes of what happened and there collated with madison notes in a famous edition of the records of the federal convention. but he we have not only records
7:53 am
of delegates took about what was going on, but people are sitting up in the balconies listening to this. and then what is i think even more marvelous, a massive private correspondence but again, this doesn't exist for the federalist convention. the delegates, they would try to madison, to washington to tell them what's going on because they were dying with curiosity to know what's going on in these states. so we get information not only what was going on in the halls, what was going on outside the halls. this is marvelous material, and it makes hudson no longer true. it suddenly has become possible to write a history of the ratification of the constitution. but this is a very recent accomplishment. when i signed my contract with simon & schuster in 1999, i told him i would have a manuscript in 2004. you might have noticed, i didn't
7:54 am
make it. indeed, i realize i had no idea what is getting into to take the truth. what i realize now is i literally could not have written this book until the fifth volume on ratification in your came out, or at least until i have access to materials that would be enough on. and it was published only in 2009. now, the project has covered eight states but it is covered all the major ones, and this helped me decide how to deal with the major organizational problem, everybody writes on the ratification has a terrible time trying to decide how to organize the narrative. how do you clear a clear story for an extent that happens in 13 places, sometimes simultaneously? my solution was to emphasize for most important states, massachusetts, pennsylvania, virginia, new york, and to fold the other states in, giving each
7:55 am
a fair section so they got a coherent, i could give my readers a coherent account of what happened there, but to do it at an appropriate chronological point in the over all history of ratification. this worked out quite well, until, well, there are five states last i haven't covered yet. how did i deal with them? it's much easier to fold them in because four of them didn't have published debates so that was a limited amount that i could say about them. and it turns out there's there determines amount that is published, i discovered in the 19 century, and at the time of the constitutional bicentennial in the late 1980s. also i was more dependent on secondary literature than usual, and some of it is just magnificent. so all of this was a great help to me, but then i found the
7:56 am
north carolina convention what they did have debates. and i thought i could just fold it into it was the last day i was going to finish this book and beyond dash and be on with my life. they were magnificent and different than all the others. in fact, that was one of the strange things about this book. i will confess that in the book -- beginning i want to panic. i've signed a contract to write a book on 13 conventions, discussing the same thing. how could that be anything but deadly boring? and then i had an epiphany that many americans and other people spend a good bit of their lives watching the same game night after night. and week after week, and the joy -- how can they do that? is because no game plays out in identical way to any of the game. you can't say, compare this inning.
7:57 am
it doesn't make any sense. and, in fact, each of these conventions were very much the same. they played out in different ways. and, of course, you don't know the outcome often until the outcome arrives. and then these two have many surprises. so the net result, although i'm mortified to take the prizes that were opportunity for this book, i have to confess like the historical books, like more than most, this is really a work of collaboration. it is built so solidly on the contributions of documentary editors, the papers of george washington, a documentary history of the ratification of the constitution, and the specialist work of many historians on individual states. people like jerry danya in new hampshire. i mean, he knows the history of ratification in new hampshire town by town, house by house, vote by vote. i mean, in a lifetime, spent a
7:58 am
lifetime studying this, and he shared it with me because he won his specialized word read into the general store. so we pretended i was doing him a favor, but i wasn't fooled. he did me a tremendous favor. okay, enough of that. with historians, the questions always, so what? the book, we propose a couple places where thing it does make a difference. go back to hudson. i think it does make a difference for interpretations to the constitution. that is for constitutional law in the united states. i'm not going to talk about originalism. is a very complicated subject. let me simple say that anyone who, for whatever reason, is interested in knowing how provisions, specific provisions of the constitution were understood, well, find the ratification debates, now that
7:59 am
we can understand them with so much more authority, a wonderful source, perhaps the best of all sources. why? because the conventions went to the constitution provision. sometimes provisions were intensely debated and controversial. sometimes the conventions just went into what i will call informational mode. that is, a delicate will say why did they write the provision on how, in article one, section, and the way they did? that it can only be suspended in cases of invasion or -- it's in the massachusetts constitution provision better, and then someone would answer. it could be a member of the state supreme court, a very distinguished jury. it might be a man who answered in the federal convention. and who knew why it was written the way it was. don't think that your delegates
8:00 am
in the back benches were always persuading. well, that's what you think. you are a stink was chairs and i am a farmer. i don't think, that's not what he says but anybody, so else could read it carefully. they were very active, active and probing debates. and i think that range of opinion that you get get you much closer into the mindset of the time. then taking a random example, the federalist papers which is the knee-jerk response of most teachers today. the federalist papers or civil were written to get the constitution ratified in new york. ..
8:01 am
8:02 am
8:03 am
8:04 am
8:05 am
8:06 am
8:07 am
8:08 am
8:09 am
>> they thought they had them but they couldn't be 100% certain. they had to move to a church that was on what's now -- they had three her 64 delegates downstairs, 600-eight other people could be comfortably accommodated in the balconies. they were stuffed. people didn't go out for lunch if they knew that was coming later. they had to be there. every basically square foot of the place was full. there's something called the seller which isn't the case for. it was full of people. it was packed. when the vote was taken their sources say it went so silent you could hear a coin drop. all you could hear was the clerk calling the names of the
8:10 am
delegates, one by one and their answer. diego arnica. and you could see people, sort of in your minds eye looking against how they expect people to vote and how that is likely to change. and and in massachusetts delegates voted in favor, 187-68 with nine delegates absent, a margin of 19 votes. that means nine swing votes could've gone the other way. but once the vote was done, the bells all over federalist boston start to ring. this is like in a novel, isn't it? i couldn't have made this a. i find it so moving, the sides of the convention to the ringing of the bells. i could go on but i better not. patrick henry's wonderful thunderstorm speech when he's in the virginia convention, people in their mansions looking down on the americans deciding the fate not only of their country but of mankind, and boom, there's a huge thunder --
8:11 am
[laughter] as if they were listening. you know, you couldn't make this stuff up. truth is indeed stranger than fiction sometimes. finally, i want to say there were wonderful characters that many of you probably heard of james wilson. anyone who's interested in the history have heard of this brilliant if rather elegant fashion era get lawyer fashion era get lawyer but what about his opponent? william finley who would have a long and distinguished service in the house of representatives, and when he, by the time he retired and i think 1818 or so he was no, and i love this come as the venerable family. or a young massachusetts lawyer, william signs from the town of andover who dare to question his old law teacher, a formidable even forbidding the parsons, and
8:12 am
one. or francis dana, our first minister to russia's oratory left the throngs got into the conventions in boston, even some reporters actually spell them. the reporters forgot to take notes they were so caught up in his oratory. or jonathan smith, a farmer from western massachusetts whose heartfelt endorsement of the constitution came at exactly the right moment in history convention, or zachariah johnston who one observer called the best speaker at the virginia convention, better than even patrick henry or james madison. and that's saying something because thomas jefferson said that patrick henry was the greatest orator of all times. and that is amazing from jefferson who truly hated patrick henry. that man was badmouthing him to his family when he was in his grave for two decades.
8:13 am
that doesn't seem very gracious to me. i was personally swayed by the probing analysis of the constitution in north carolina's first convention. it had to pick and also thought his leading opponent on, good, and above all there was langston smith, without his effort than your convention would probably not have voted to ratify, and his friend and fellow congressmen nathan dan at massachusetts who said of smith some of the wisest most statesmanlike council i have encountered in all my readings. that there were so many such men is itself significant. it shows the country was not depend on a handful of great men. the united states had a deep bench, and i would say even a deep intellectual bench. if you're interested in the history of ideas it is very
8:14 am
moving to see the debate on the very local level, which concerns issues which are of continued significance of those of us who care about liberty and the conflict with power. in the end, i don't mean to say that washington wasn't indispensable or hamilton wasn't learned. in the end there were others who might have moved forward into national office, and sometimes did, but who are often spent their political lives within their states. they and also their constituents, an important part of the story, invested their minds and their hearts in evaluating the constitution and its probable impact on what they repeatedly called millions yet unborn. that in the end they supported ratification is only part of their gift to the country. as i say in the book, they made the republic work.
8:15 am
it was very satisfying to be able to give them finally the place and americans, maybe world history, that they had earned so long ago. it felt like an act of justice long overdue. and it is also satisfying to have given my country the missing half of its founding story. we've had the easy part, the story of those 55 demagogues, as jefferson called them who wrote the constitution, now we have the democratic part of the story, the part that tells how an energized people who knew their power and took their responsibility seriously shaped the future of their nation. perhaps that's the part we need most to know. it brings the story down to earth, gives us models, maybe
8:16 am
inspiration, and even hope. thank you. th[applause] >> we have time for some questions. >> i am spellbound, to use your word that it was just wonderful, thank you so much. just the kind of curiosity, as you are talking about constitution being ratified, was there any change in the original language, or was everything eventually ratified in its entirety? >> she asked if there's any change in the language of the constitution. it's a wonderful question because that's precisely what the issue was. when we talk about federalism and anti-federalists we get locked into dichotomies.
8:17 am
there are people for and against the constitution. that was a really the issue. one of the things that made this so decisive was at the photos, with no authority whatsoever, of course, the federal convention had no authority to write a new government or to say it should be ratified or do any of that, they said there could be no amendment. you know, that take it or leave it. take it as we wrote it, don't change, just ratify. if you want to make changes, we had a procedure in article five for amendments. george mason, before the convention adjourned, he said wait a minute, we have met in secret. the public doesn't know what we are doing. we have had no feedback from the outside, and we should let -- edmund randolph and others said it's really important that the state conventions be allowed to propose changes to the
8:18 am
constitution. the public, the sovereign people should say where this and you dash that whether this issue is going to pinch and fix it will before they have to wear it everyday. the convention said no. at this point mason said it is not good to tell the sovereign people, take this or nothing. and he wouldn't sign. nordic randolph, nor did gary. that was the issue. of those who the federal is called anti-federalists, some were opposed, but the greater part of the critics of the constitution simply, they said were in a big mess. this is the step forward, but it needs to be fixed. there are places which are ambiguous. i invite you to go home and read the constitution and to pretend you are an american who first encounters it on september 20 or something, 1787, and read it and save what did those guys duke? and see if you find everything
8:19 am
perfectly clear. they said the constitution should be perfectly clear. there shall be no more than one representative for every 30,000 i don't know, maybe you have a bit more intuitive sense of mathematics to me. i had to figure hardware that meant. it meant you could make it worse but not better basically. why doesn't it say there shall be one for every 30,000 until the house of representatives gets to an untenable size? know, there were no changes, but the issue was should it be changed first, and most people thought, a good many of the critics of the constitution thought it should be changed into should be changed before goes into effect. because as patrick henry said, only an idiot signed a contract thinking he can change obnoxious provisions later. it should be changed first, and that the rights of the people are involved. i mean, you know. so you're right, nothing was
8:20 am
changed and the demand was that things should be changed before goes into effect. eventually they settled for proposing changes once it went into effect. why? giving you a whole nother lecture. five states ratified without asking any amendment. from there on if you wanted amendments prior to the beginning of the new government you had a procedural nightmare. didn't you? would be going to have to meet again and consider these amendments? was going to write up the amendments? of massachusetts said we will ratify and propose a minister subsequent ratification. that's of the five next states to meet for, you know, took that solution. it was a compromise for the good of the country basically. but amendments were the issue, not the constitution. amendments were really the issue. yes?
8:21 am
>> what happened in delaware? >> à la where was sneaky. i mean, the pennsylvanians were talking and talking, and the delaware met and said boom, boom, boom, yes, and they be pennsylvania. i thought indo. so we don't have an awful lot of records for delaware. and often they say newspaper, oh, this wasn't published in delaware. i think delaware got its newspapers from the neighboring states, you know? they had some circling but that was a good thing people read here. so that's a little unrealistic. i thought that was beautiful. actually, and i have to say after i studied the first convention, i wrote something on the pennsylvania convention and the show to a friend of mine, one of the two people to whom the book is dedicated, and the other was my mother. he read it and he said wait a minute, you're a historian. is supposed to be neutral. you are in there fighting. you are so angry how the lofty
8:22 am
they were to these other guys? and he said you've got to back off. and i think it probably is a bit more backed off. but anyway, i still had some at the attitude. so when delaware zapped them, man, i was happy. this is great. i've often been in talks were only men ask questions. this is a good crowd. [laughter] this isn't to say i won't take questions from men. okay, yes, sir. i'm interested in the composition of the different states conventions. could you talk a lot about the composition of those conventions that were chosen speak as composition, you mean what? >> who is actually in those conventions. does that make much difference? >> it's very different, you know, from state to state actually so you have a different to file.
8:23 am
i don't know much about delaware because it's one of the state that has no debates. and although it had quite active partisan conflicts, they don't seem, they seem to just hold. it was a great consensus delaware was better off ratified, and they were right. they didn't have to pay import duties that would go to the nation. it wouldn't go to pennsylvania. and then, you know, that was great. and is recognized, and it got to senators. equal to virginia. look, delaware came out, oh, boy, they cannot very well and they knew it so they just ratified i think. massachusetts, the towns in the west sent -- almost the full contingent of delegates and they had been doing that to state legislatures. although the towns could send as
8:24 am
many delegates as they were authorized to send to the lower house of the assembly, in fact the convention was much bigger than the assembly, and the assembly had been growing in recent years. why? i think they understood finally it was important, you know, but this is going to affect them. and you have large, i think there were people who were like mill owners or farmers and often were not as elegant as the purpose. is why they thought that everything going for them. the lawyers, a lot of clergyman, people who, for living, talked publicly. you know, like professors. some of them are, some of them are not. but they were used to speaking. and they were thought they do talk circles around these guys and talked them into anything.
8:25 am
and it turns out they couldn't. i mean, i think it had something to do with the background of these new englanders, and they were stubborn. if they have been raised to be told the police couldn't tell them what the bible said, no one was going to tell -- they work used to reading documents, if you will, and they were recently confident they could interpret it themselves. flow, they shed their blood and the new people have died in the revolution. ideas were yes abstractions, but they were ideas with very human consequences that they knew, and he didn't want to pay that cost for liberty again. so they were really, you know, they really couldn't be bludgeoned into it. and they certainly had power. and i could go through state after state. in new york the actual had a wider franchise to vote for the convention than for the legislature. so, you know, you would find
8:26 am
more people voting for convention, more voters better than on -- it's just a very complicated story from one to another. but they were genuinely democratic meetings. and impressive. >> professor maier from one of the things that strikes me about the story is that the constitution are more precise at the debate over the constitution was given a lot of procedural legitimacy by the established political or that already existed, that congress had existed under the articles of confederation, and to send on the constitution with a kind of, that was greater than what came out of philadelphia convention, then every state legislature had to schedule and set of procedures for elections, in the scheduling of ratifying the convention to get your researchers turn up any thing in these places because i think i differ with you a bit. i think, you know, again, one of
8:27 am
the reasons i find it so strange that people thought this was just going to go through for sure was how outrageous the federal convention was from a certain perspective. they had been told this is solely exclusive purpose of proposing amendment to the convention but instead, they meet in secret for four months and then they say get rid of the confederation. have we got an idea for you. if anybody did this today we wouldn't give them the time of day i think. and then they laid out the ratification procedures, but then they have no authority to do and they laid them out different than what it would take to get and then and it to the articles of confederation ratified. they did meet the consent of congress and all 13 states, legislatures. now all the conventions said that it should be laid before congress.
8:28 am
and what did that mean? i mean, even congress said what are the devil are we supposed to do with this? what it means is they didn't have to approve it. and all congress did after a big raincoat is to send it off to the states and in the states called the conventions. but the whole procedure was a little questionable actually. except it had legitimacy in the theory that became established in the course of the revolution, at three that was necessary to distinguish constitutional law from ordinary law. and that is that constitutional law was a direct act of legislation by the sovereign people. this begins in massachusetts where it's written, the constitution is written by separate convention and then submitted to the people in the town for ratification. that differentiates it from ordinary law, but this is the basis of our by double system of
8:29 am
law, constitution, ordinary law. so that model of constitutionalism had been recently established on the massachusetts precedent. it followed pressure in 1784, and madison said that articles of confederation were really no government at all because they hadn't been ratified by the people. so that notion had set in. but then their constitutional theory had move forward in such a way as to justify the procedure. but it was, it was a little, you know, questionable. >> they could have stopped in its tracks be me but in some way they got between a rock and a hard place, don't they? a legislature coming is to say to your constituents sorry, when i going to let you have a say on this. you know, in the atmosphere of p


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on